Civic duty a family affair for the Bakers

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 14, 2006

Ashley McKnight-Taylor

The Baker family is making history in the Suffolk Rotary Club for the second time in more than 30 years.

At the end of March, Blake Baker, 31, became the fourth generation of Bakers to be inducted into the club.


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“I’m proud of it,” he said.

Before that, his father, Robert, became one of the youngest members ever to be installed in the local organization when he was inducted in 1970 at age 25.

“To me, it’s a good business-oriented club,” Robert said.

Buddy Baker, Blake’s great-grandfather, and Bob Baker, his grandfather, were both members of the Suffolk Rotary Club and his great-great-grandfather was a business partner in Nansemond Grocery Company with the Suffolk club’s first president, Mac Cross.

Seeing as how great-great granddad was in his 70s when the Rotary club was founded, he didn’t join, Robert said.

The Rotary Club is a philanthropic organization that raises money to give money, Robert said. It has sponsored various events throughout the city; their biggest fundraiser these days is the Suffolk First Citizen award banquet. The club also provides scholarships to students at each Suffolk high school, he added.

The club meets every Thursday. Meetings consist of programs, dealing with business or an educational topic, run by a Rotarian.

“It’s good fellowship,” he said.

Robert joined because, well, his father was a member, and because he wanted the opportunity to meet new people. After years of participation, it was important to him to pass the club’s morals and ideals on to his son, he said.

Blake certainly has an appreciation for community involvement: he had already worked with United Way, and currently acts as logistics coordinator for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

Robert had the honor of pinning Blake’s Rotary pin on his lapel, even though the president normally performs inductions. At that time he told Blake, “You have been elected to membership in the Suffolk Rotary Club, because your fellow members believe you to be worthy of your calling, and also to possess qualities that will permit you to exemplify in your public, business, social and private life, the true spirit of Rotary.”

Rotary Club members joked that the pressure is on for Blake to produce a fifth generation Rotary member. But he said nothing compared to the pressure of producing a sixth generation operator of Baker’s Funeral Home, the family business on West Washington Street.

He does have a candidate, however. Daughter Madalyn Lynell was born in October 2004. Fortunately, women are permitted to join the Rotary these days.